What is Life without Miracles – a Therapy Dog Story
Having dogs has been an interesting journey. Eight years ago I declared not to keep the puppies after having them for a month. Now I love them like family. They were also “Registered Therapy Dogs”.
I would like to share one of the highlights of our therapy dog visits. We met “Preston” at a church respite care program (a “short break” provided for families with children with a developmental delay). The volunteers were so caring and everybody was having a great time. Preston, a 6-7 year old boy, spotted our dogs and started running toward them and making a high-pitched noise. Two volunteers ran after him to make sure he was OK. I was later told he has autism. When Preston reached Bubba and Jake, he was so excited. I started talking to Preston, but was kindly reminded that Preston could not talk. I found it odd to be silent so I started saying this to him: “his name is Bubba…”
To everybody’s surprise, Preston started saying “Bubba, Bubba… Bubba…”. My heart jumped! Then Preston started reaching for Bubba’s back. The volunteers were concerned he might hurt our dog because his movements were not coordinated, so they gently pulled him back. Preston was very persistent. After a while I said “it’s OK” as I watched closely to make sure he wouldn’t startle Bubba. I could not believe what I saw – Preston reached for the Bubba’s vest and slowly, with quite a bit of difficulty, zipped up an open zipper. He did not talk, but his heart spoke clearly “I love you Bubba and I really want to help you”.
I will never forget this experience, not just because our dogs had served as an opening to Preston’s heart and possibilities. I realized that there are people all around us who settle with limitations – for themselves and others. They mean well, and in the case of the volunteers, safety and order are priorities. However, my question is: who is to say we can not do this or that? How much have we accepted as is? If you don’t believe it in the spirit, it ain’t gonna happen in the natural. Most of us are familiar with this story – before 1954, the “authorities” said no man can run a mile in less than 4 minutes, so no one did. After being proven wrong by Bannister, thousands were able to do that! One of my favorite movies is “Saint Ralph”. In one of the scenes Father Hibbert said: “what is life without miracles? When was the last time you put yourself on the line?”
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